So, you're engaged (YAY!) and maybe your wedding will be the first big event you've ever planned, or heck, maybe its the only event you've ever planned. Thinking about creating a wedding can be a daunting task and maybe you don't know where, or how you should begin! That's where I come in!
Let these steps serve as a general guide to lead you in the right direction to get your planning started and under control. All weddings are different, that's what makes planning them so much fun! This guide is by no means comprehensive for every wedding, but should give you the tools and planning guide you need to get started. Having a step by step plan will help ease your stress and makes the planning feel less daunting when you break it up into smaller pieces! (and if you decide you want help, I'm just a click away!)
1. Imagine your wedding
Sit down with your partner and imagine your wedding (each of you, separately). Don't try to imagine all the details like where it is, who is there, what you're wearing or what font the menus are in- just image how it feels. Does it feel intimate and small, romantic, bold and loud or dark and cozy? After you've both imagined your wedding separately, talk to each other - did you both envision the same thing? Most likely there is some overlap, but there are likely to be differences as well. Not sure how to mix the loud and bold wedding with the soft and romantic wedding you imagined? Read on!
2. List the 2-3 most important aspects
Now that you know what you want your wedding to feel like from step 1 (romantic, formal, soft and airy, hip and chic) what are the 2-3 most important things that will achieve the way you want your wedding to feel? These are pieces you absolutely want to have and care about most for your wedding. Again, you and your partner should both write this down separately. Maybe the DJ is the most important thing to you if you imagined your wedding to feel like a fiesta. Maybe it's the florist if you want your wedding to feel elegant and romantic. Maybe its the ceremony because you are a romantic at heart, or maybe its speeches, or alcohol, or catering, or your outfits, or the lighting, or guest comfort etc.
3. Search & book your venue
Now you know what want your wedding to feel like and the 4-6 most important things you want to focus on for your wedding. Try to keep only the most important aspects in mind while searching for a venue. Venues are often the most daunting step in planning because your venue determines so many other factors (formality, decor, rentals, caterer, etc.) and sometimes you may have to compromise because it is rare to find a venue that's all outdoors, and lets you have a raging dance party until 1am. Be flexible and keep an open mind, focusing on only if it can hold or achieve the most important pieces to you- anything after that is a bonus! You can find venus by using...Google, Wedding Blogs and searching by location, asking friends, Wedding Wire, etc. Make sure your top venues have an environment that could translate to the way you want you want your wedding to feel and incorporate the elements that are most important to you and your partner. Then, make appointments to visit them!
4. Create a list of vendors
Once your figure out your venue and date, the rest of the planning will quickly move along. Start a list of all the vendors your need and want, starting with the ones that will execute your most important aspects first. Do you need a caterer, does your venue have in house food, or does your venue require you work with a specific caterer? Do you want a band or a DJ? What about a ceremony or cocktail hour musician? Do you need to rent sound for ceremony amplification? What about a florist? Dessert? Photographer? Rentals? Videographer? Photobooth? Food truck? Oyster bar? Calligrapher? Make up artist? Once you have your list started, figure out cost estimates you could spend on each vendor, based on your budget. Many vendors don't list prices on their websites so you may have to inquire to find out their rates. You want to make sure you can afford to work with a certain vendor before booking with them! Figure out the big picture and book the most important vendors to you first.
5. Book vendors
Now that you have your list of vendors and estimated costs, its time to book your vendors! After your venue, the next most common vendors to book would be your photographer and wedding planner. Unless it is a huge company, they often only take one wedding per weekend, so you want to make sure you book them before someone else snags them for your wedding weekend! Bakeries can often have multiple weddings on the same day, so they can usually be saved for a little bit later (of course, if dessert is top on your list of most important things, please book this first! And, if photography ranks low on your list of importance, then hold off until you've booked your most important pieces first!) Constantly refer back to your list of the 4-6 most important things for your wedding day and work on lining those up first. If a vendor you want is over your budget, step back and ask yourself, is this a vendor that is *most* important to us to create the day we want? If not, hold off until you book your vendors that are more important in creating the ambiance and environment you envisioned. It's easy to get caught up in "I have to have this vendor!", but really make sure they fit within your budget and your importance list.
6. List your smaller details
Now you've got a wedding really started! Next, its time for some of the details like... are you going to have bridesmaids and groomsmen? How many? What will they wear? You need wedding bands- where will you get those made/purchase from? Oh yes, you'll probably want a wedding website, save the dates, invitations, outfits, shoes, cufflinks, veil, jewelry, placecards, menus. And oh, so much more. Make a list of the little details you want to include. Now that you have this list, you have all of those small details out of your head! (Wow! What did you ever spend your time thinking about before you started wedding planning?!) It becomes a lot clearer what you want to do, or need to do, when you have lists written out, without other details competing for brain space and trying to remember 50 things you wanted to purchase/create/hire someone for. Divide these details into separate months from now until your wedding and decide what you want to start on now (outfits, for example), and what can be put off for few months (favors and guestbook). Divide and conquer! Also, don't forget about your ceremony and vows!
7. Attack your last minute items
No matter how organized and on top of planning you were for the past few months, inevitably with the nature of events, there are always last minute items that need to be taken care of. You'll have RSVPs trickling in and someone will always forget to RSVP so you'll have to track down the stragglers! (Good news is, you'll never RSVP late to a wedding ever again) Once you have your RSVPs you'll create the seating chart, finalize your guests' meal choices with your caterer (if you have a sit down dinner) and finalize your guest count with your caterer. Also, you'll have vendor balances due during the weeks leading up to your wedding. Other important things you'll need to take care of in the final month - figure out how all of your decor items are going to get to the venue and how it all will leave the venue and if you don't have a planner you'll create a day of timeline and decide who is going to keep the day on schedule and moving along.
8. ENJOY your wedding
You made it! Now you get to sit back and enjoy the day you get married while your planner takes care of the rest :)
Planning a wedding can be a big task for someone who has never planned a wedding before, and many different opinions from (insert nosy family members here) get involved. This step by step plan should act as a general guide for how to break the planning into pieces. Keep in mind, many of the tasks listed above will be taking place simultaneously and not always in a linear way. It's always a good idea to consult a planner if you are feeling overwhelmed - your wedding will be one of the happiest times in your life, and nothing is worse than feeling buried by all the things you have to do when you're planning such a special day! Now that you have your guide you are equip with the tools to get started on your own.
What is the hardest part of planning for you? Leave your comments below!